This strategy sends an important signal to industry that UK Government is serious about supporting business growth in the post-Brexit era. In this context, it is very significant that the Prime Minister, the Treasury and the Department for Business, the Environment, Innovation and Skills are all fully behind this Strategy.
I welcome the focus on productivity improvements. The HVM Catapult is a prime example of how collaboration between businesses from different sectors, as well as between industry, academia and government, generates step-change improvements in productivity, innovation and competitiveness.
I agree with the Strategy’s ten pillars, which highlight areas of focus for the HVM Catapult and the wider UK manufacturing innovation landscape.
Investment in science, research and innovation will continue to be key in ensuring the UK exploits its research excellence – which is truly world-class – and translates this into economic value add and employment in this country. The infrastructure put in place through the Research Councils, Innovate UK and the Catapult programme, is already showing real economic impact. Ongoing government commitment will allow industry engagement to deepen, innovation to develop and impact to grow.
Skills development is consistently highlighted by industry as a key requirement for future growth and prosperity. At the HVM Catapult, we already equip hundreds of engineering apprentices, university graduates, undergraduates and PhD students with the skills industry needs, and we work with partners including the EEF – the manufacturers organisation – on the development of a national engineering skills structure.
I also welcome the New Industrial Challenge Fund and the focus on challenges in areas related to UK manufacturing, and we will work with Innovate UK and others to help shape the challenges.
The Strategy announces several reviews which have every potential to help channel resources and focus in government and industry to help boost UK competitiveness in specific areas of opportunity.
Sir Mark Walport’s review of battery technology, energy storage and grid technology coincides with ground-breaking advances in electrification which are driven by the UK automotive sector through the Automotive Council and which are set to transform car usage over the next decade.
Juergen Maier’s review of the ways in which UK industry can benefit from adopting digital technology applications is extremely topical. It comes at a time when the vast majority of UK companies expect to have to invest in new technologies to meet customer demands, yet only 42% feel they are familiar with the concept of the fourth industrial revolution.[i] Demystifying digital manufacturing approaches will be key in increasing business adoption of new technologies which in turn will improve productivity and competitiveness of the UK economy.
My team at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and I look forward to working with colleagues in industry, academia and government to deliver the Strategy’s objective of achieving long-term growth in the UK economy.
[i] EEF/Oracle report, The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), November 2016